Failing Forward

3 Things to Remember When You Fail

We all fail! We’ve all said things we wish we could take back and done things we wish we could undo. And the truth of the matter is that we will all fail again, and again, and again and in many different areas of life. So what’s the remedy? Well, if we’re going to fail we better learn how to “Fail Forward” so to speak. Failing Forward is all about what you do immediately after failing! But before we go right into “3 Things to Remember When You Fail” I’d like to share a story because stories stick and I believe this story will help you remember these three things well!

2,000 years ago when Jesus walked the earth he began his ministry by assembling a team. This team was known as the “Twelve Disciples” – one of those twelve was a man named Peter. Peter was a leader, he often spoke first, acted first & took the lead when a problem arose. He was a dedicated follower of Jesus for close to three years! Until one night when Jesus was being led to die – to be crucified for all to see Peter began to shrink back, he shied away from being a leader and in a cowardly way he denied even knowing Jesus (3 times)!

Immediately after he did he wept bitterly! He was ashamed that he would deny the one he followed for years, his friend, an incredible and selfless man, this miracle worker, the very Son of God! Thankfully the story does not stop there! After being crucified before many witnesses and confirmed to be dead this man Jesus rose from the grave! Surely this was the Son of God who came to take away the sins of the world! And who did this man Jesus seek after his death and resurrection? The disciples AND Peter! Scripture records Peter being singled out, as if God wanted to make sure Peter got the message! Jesus then appears to the disciples and countless others over a period of the next forty days! These “3 Things to Remember When You Fail” are discovered by Peter on one particular day after Jesus had rose from the grave:

The Disciples had gone back to fishing and Peter was leading the charge. However they had no luck after fishing all night! Then they heard a voice from the shore saying, “Cast your net on the other side of the boat!” When they did they ended up catching more fish then they could haul in! The disciples recognized who this man was, it was Jesus! Peter then dove out into the water to meet him on the shore and this brings up the first thing to remember when you fail:

  1. Run TO God instead of FROM God!

Often when we fail we’re tempted to keep failing. We think to ourselves, “I might as well, I’ve already messed up, why not mess up even more?!” Like Adam and Eve in the beginning of Genesis after they sinned they hid from God! This too is another temptation, instead of running back to God we tend to want to hide and run away from Him. But God greets us with love and desires that even after we fail we would get back up and come to Him! Like the parable of the lost son, God our Father is waiting for us to return with open arms! He loves us and desires to pour His love, grace and mercy upon us! So when you fail (and you will) remember to run to God rather than from Him!

Throughout their conversation Jesus has a few questions for Peter. Three times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” And three times Peter said, “Yes, you know that I love you!” Each time Jesus responded, “Then feed my sheep!” What was Jesus really saying? What was Jesus pointing Peter to? Essentially Jesus was helping Peter to look to the future He had for him rather than his past mistakes. He was calling Peter to rise up and lead again! To take care of the church and lead well! And this brings up the second thing to remember when you fail:

2.   Focus more on the future instead of fixating on the past!

We all have a past, we’ve all made countless mistakes but we make another mistake if we allow the mistakes of our past to trip us up in the present and negatively impact our future! Just as our windshield is so much larger than our rearview mirror we must focus on what’s ahead of us (our future) rather than gaze at what’s behind us (fixate on our past)! Moses was a murderer, David was an adulterer and the Apostle Paul persecuted Christians! They all had a past but God called each of them to focus on Him and the future He had for them! God’s calling us to forget what is behind and to focus our eyes on what is ahead!

Lastly after this session of Q & A Jesus said one more thing that I’d like to highlight! A simple phrase Peter would have heard a few times before, “Follow me.” Jesus was essentially saying, “Stay close to me, continue to follow me and get back into a place of faith! Remember all the miracles we witnessed together! Remember who I am and who you are! Let’s continue to do ministry together and as you follow me remember to believe nothing is impossible with God!” And this brings up the third thing to remember when you fail:

3.   Continue to follow Jesus and stay in a place of faith!

Scripture tells us a righteous man falls seven times but gets back up! It also says the righteous shall live by faith! We’re going to fall but we’re all called to rise again! We’re called to live not by sight but rather by faith! Simply put we’re not to be so easily impacted by negative things we see around us. Rather we’re called to be impacted by the things we see God pointing us to in His Word and through divine inspiration. Jesus was helping Peter to move past his past and it’s negative connotations. Jesus went even further by essentially changing the story!

If you read the Scriptures it was by a fire that Peter denied Jesus three times AND it was by a fire Jesus restored Peter by inviting Peter to express his love for Him three times! God used the very things that would remind Peter of his failure and He made them things that would remind Peter of his restoration and calling! Jesus was essentially changing the narrative! God was changing the story!

And if you too want your story to be changed, simply invite God into your pain, invite Him into your failure and watch what He does! He will take your mess and He’ll make it your message! God has a way of taking our failures and turning them around for something good! So remember these three things when you fail:

  1. Run TO God instead of FROM God!
  2. Focus more on the future instead of fixating on the past!
  3. Continue to follow Jesus and stay in a place of faith!

And be encouraged knowing that failure is never a person, it’s an event. We’ll all experience failure but failure is not who we are! We’re overcomers! So next time you fail… Fail Forward!


Would you like to hear more on this subject?

Click HERE to listen to a recent sermon on Failing Forward!

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